FILMSTUDY: Ravens Again Prove to be Oracles of Adelphia

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Ravens Again Prove to be Oracles of Adelphia

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The past 3 seasons the Ravens have not played well on wet fields.  The defense relies on dry conditions to maximize their speed and smarts, but after Saturday’s game I get the feeling the Ravens could have played the game on an ice rink or in a swimming pool as long as it was built at the structure formerly known as Adelphia Coliseum (now LP field).


 

It was my 4th trip to Nashville and I’ve already seen a lifetime of great football there:

  • The 24-10 divisional playoff win following the 2000 season in what most agree was the Super Bowl that year.
  • The goal-line stand on Monday Night the following season that preserved the Ravens 16-10 win
  • The 27-26 thriller in 2006 sealed by Pryce’s blocked FG
  • Saturday’s 13-10 war
     

The fans there are the nicest we have met in traveling, and have consistently welcomed us.  The games have been repetitiously thrilling, but *sigh*, I’ll just have to accept that.


 

The Titans have retooled with a very talented team, optimized the use of a journeyman QB, and even renamed their seemingly cursed facility.  No matter.  The Ravens still own that stadium on the Cumberland River.


 

There were again no kneels or spikes executed by the Titans:


 

Overall:  71 plays, 391 yards, 5.5 YPPA.  This was the most defensive snaps for the Ravens this season.

Best:  Walker 27/101, 3.7 YPPA, Ivy 32/138, 4.3 YPPA

Worst:  Suggs 27/188, 7.0 YPPA, Bannan 32/211, 6.6 YPPA


 

Vs. the Run:  28 carries, 116 yards, 4.1 YPC

Best:  Douglas 17/63, 3.7 YPC

Worst:  Pryce 18/84, 4.7 YPC, Suggs 14/72, 5.1 YPC.  Obviously, the timing of Johnson’s injury was significant for those who played primarily in the 1st or 2nd half.


 

Vs. the Pass:  43 pass plays, 275 net yards, 6.4 YPP

Best:  Walker 17/63, 3.7 YPP

Worst:  Bannan 16/139, 8.7 YPP, Suggs 13/116, 8.9 YPP


 

By number of Pass Rushers:

3 or fewer:  5/14, 2.8 YPP

4:  21/131, 6.2 YPP, 1 Sacks, 1 TO

5:  15/130, 8.7 YPP

6:  2/0, 0.0 YPP, 1 TO

7:  None, and still none in the playoffs to date


 

By number of Defensive Backs:

3:  1/1, 1.0 YPPA (1 play with the Titans backed up to their own 1-yard line)

4:  38/252, 6.6 YPPA, 1 Sack

5:  20/90 yards, 4.5 YPPA, 2 TO

6:  9/32, 3.6 YPPA

7:  3/16, 5.3 YPPA, 1 TO


 

Individual Notes

 
·        Subjectively, I think the slippery field greatly reduced aggression from Ed Reed.  He was forced to remain deep to help the corners, each of whom were having difficulty staying with the array of slants.  Collins threw very few deep balls, and his longest completion, for 28 yards, was Johnson’s catch with 20+ YAC (Q1, 8:09).

 
·         The safety that wasn’t (Q2, 11:30).  Not just the tip of the ball was touching the line, but Johnson’s left elbow was down (as can be pieced together from the 2 angles) while the ball was squarely over the goal line.  The difference was 2 points, field position, and 12 additional defensive snaps on that drive before Rolle’s INT.  Aside from that drive, the Titans had only 1 possession of more than 8 plays, so the missed call was a major contributor to the defensive weariness. 

 
·         Jarrett Johnson looked good in his first extended play since the Pittsburgh game.  In the last 3 weeks, he was limited to 39, 26, and 36 defensive snaps.  I believe that was all a function of his calf injury suffered at Dallas.  On Saturday, Johnson played 62 of 71 snaps and contributed 3 tackles, a FF that closed out the half (Q2, 0:36), and the crawling QH on Collins on the game-sealing play (Q4, 0:17).

 
·         Ngata played the first 25 snaps and 62 of 71 overall.  He registered 2 TFLs among 4 tackles, but was a non-factor in the pass rush.  With Suggs out, the entire line was pushed very hard.  Pryce (55), Douglas (36), Bannan (32), and Jones (9) all played significantly more snaps than usual.  In addition, McClain saw action as a down lineman and played 20 total snaps. McKinney was used sparingly (12 snaps) considering the injury.

 
·         After allowing 37 1st-half plays by the Titans offense, the Ravens stopped the Titans on 4 plays or less on each of the first 3 drives of the 2nd half.  Those stops were just the tonic needed to regain effectiveness after the Suggs injury.

 
·        The Ravens have not knocked down a pass at the LoS in the last 3 weeks.  Suggs had 1 at Dallas, but the Ravens were also shut out the week before vs. the Steelers.  That’s one of the significant benefits of getting good pressure.  While we’d probably agree the Ravens got good pressure on Pennington, he’s naturally more careful about throwing lanes due to his experience and height.  Pressure on Roethisberger can often result in bad decisions as his INT total testifies, but the Ravens’ linemen need to work to make these plays.

 
·        Scott and Lewis both epitomized the physicality of the game, registering 11 tackles each.  Lewis had the highlight-reel hit with a FF on Hall.  Scott had a big QH on Collins (Q2, 14:27).  They combined for 3 tackles for loss.
 

·         Leonhard was easily the Ravens’ MVP, with a game that included:

  • the come from behind tackle on Johnson (Q1, 8:09) that temporarily prevented a TD
  • the diagnosed screen pass to Scaife for a 5-yard loss on 3rd and 3 (Q2, 14:24)
  • the FR on White’s fumble (Q2, 0:36)
  • the QH on Collins that resulted in an incomplete on 3rd and 9 (Q3, 14:15)
  • the 29-yard punt return (Q3, 1:58) to set up the FG that put the Ravens up 10-7
  • the pivotal FF on Crumpler (Q4, 9:08)        
     
·        Leonhard did not play the Ravens last defensive series, when both Zbikowski and Nakamura were inserted.  Oddly, Nakamura was used as the dime, roaming near the LoS while Zibby played opposite Reed in the deep cover 2.  When Zbikowski has previously entered in 7 DB sets, he’s often been used close to the LoS as a pass-rushing threat and Nakamura had most often played deep.  It was during that series that Nakamura had a clean shot at the tip from Lewis (Q4, 0:23).  He missed his shot for his first NFL interception, but it was nice to see the Ravens have an opportunity for a tip drill type interception.

 

·         It’s difficult for me to understand how Fisher seems to have escaped most of the blame for this loss.  He mentioned the turnovers and missed FG in his post-game press conference, but made 3 serious game-management errors. 

  • Not getting the wind in the 4th quarter was inexcusable.  The Titans won the toss.  Had they not felt the need to defer, they would either have had an extra possession in the 2nd half or the wind in Q4.  Watching the kickers warm up for the 2nd half, it was clear Stover’s into-the-wind limit might have been 40 yards, but that he might have connected from 50 with the wind.
  • After Lewis, Zibby, and Ivy stopped Gage (Q4, 4:50), Fisher went for the tying FG on 4th and less than a yard at the Baltimore 10.  It certainly wasn’t an aggressive play, nor one which showed confidence in his well-rested defense. That defense had been on the field for just 3 of the previous 18 offensive snaps and allowed just 7 first downs all day to that point.  Had the Titans made a 1st down, the Ravens would have been sorely pressed to stop them from scoring a TD, if in fact they had not scored on 4th down.  Had the Ravens managed to summon up a special defensive play and stop the Titans, they would still have taken over near the 10.  An ancillary benefit of going for the first down and subsequently settling for a FG would have been the greatly reduced time for the Ravens to score to win in regulation.  It was a decision that would not be questioned (in fact, Dierdorf called it a “no-brainer” to kick), but it was a very questionable decision.  It would take me significant space to explain the win probabilities as I would estimate them, but if you’re interested, there is a good model available at Advanced NFL Stats. In my opinion, the model is understating the impact of the Ravens overworked defense, but it still shows that The Titans’ probability of winning would have been significantly higher had they gone for it.
  • After McGahee ran for 1 yard on 1st and 10 (Q4, 1:49), Fisher declined to call a timeout.  Had the Titans been able to stop the Ravens on consecutive plays for less than 9 yards with a TO after each, the Ravens would have been faced with a long FG attempt (no closer than 43 yards) with the knowledge that the Titans would have approximately 1:11 to drive for a tying FG or winning TD.  Given Stover’s difficulties beyond 40 yards this season, the FG was far from given and a miss would have set up excellent field position.  The Titans also might have conserved a timeout by forcing the Ravens to throw for a first down.  If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s exactly what happened.  The Ravens gained 8 yards on 2 plays, Stover made the biggest kick of his career, and the Titans were left with just 47 seconds.  It was a clock-management blunder for the ages and makes Fisher eligible to be enshrined in the Del Greco wing of 1 Winning Drive.
  • Fisher has been a good coach, has served on the competition committee, and is viewed as one of the most knowledgeable game managers, but he, like his team, was off his game on Saturday and we Ravens’ fans should all be very thankful for that.

·         The Ravens 3 biggest defensive plays:

  • Leonhard FF on Crumpler is recovered by Washington (Q4, 9:08)—Crumpler was probably the most distraught of the Titans after the game, although White had an equal right to be so.
  • Lewis slows down Gage for Zbikowski and Ivy (Q4, 4:50)—This play left the Titans approximately 12-18 inches short of a 1st down and Fisher took the tying FG (see above commentary).
  • Tie between Rolle’s INT (Q2, 4:17) and JJ’s FF/Leonhard’s FR (Q2, 0:36)—The first ended a 13-play, 67-yard drive that had reached the Ravens 32.  The second sent the game to the half still tied.

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time.

If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas.

He can be reached by email at filmstudy21@verizon.net or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens.

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